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Artificial Fingerprint Ring Could Combat Biometric Data Theft

A cybersecurity company has teamed up with a 3D accessory designer to produce a ring that could tackle the issue of what to do if your biometric data is stolen. 

The attractive and wearable piece of jewelry features a synthetic fingerprint that can be used to unlock phones, make payments, or even access a home or office. 

Unlike the actual fingerprint of a living human, which can never be replaced if lost, the artificial biometric identifier can be erased and substituted with a new version in the event of an identity theft. 

The ring represents the collaborative efforts of cybersecurity firm Kaspersky, Swedish designer Benjamin Waye, and creative agency Archetype.

“By combining the elements of art and technology, the ring makes the person wearing it stand out from the crowd as a visionary,” said the ring's designer, Waye.

“It is a different approach to how we wear jewelry. Usually, it is much more practical. Not only is it considered beautiful, but it has been designed with the aim of helping to solve a quite serious problem in today’s modern life. It helps preserve our uniqueness in a world where everything could otherwise be copied.”

In 2015, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) hack in the United States caused 5.6 million fingerprints to be leaked. More recently, the fingerprints of over 1 million people were discovered on a publicly accessible database used by the UK Metropolitan police, defense contractors, and banks. That is in addition to multiple examples where researchers have demonstrated proof-of-concept schemes that allow human fingerprints to be stolen with the help of digital cameras and other widely available tools.

“While the ring is just one of the possible ways to tackle the current cybersecurity problems related to biometrics, this is certainly not a silver bullet,” said Marco Preuss, director of the global research and analysis team at Kaspersky, Europe. 

“A real solution will involve creating measures and technologies that would guarantee the protection of people’s unique identities. Such a solution is yet to be developed, and the current situation surrounding the safety of biometrics is not where it needs to be."

Although the ring is a proof-of-concept piece, it paves the way for further discussion on securing biometric data.

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